A recent report from regional development agency One North East highlights the value of tourism to the North East of England's economy; new figures show a 30% growth in the last five years. With visitors now helping to contribute £3.9bn every year to the local economy, direct employment in tourism has risen from 53,069 in 2003 to 60,775 in 2007.
As part of its continuing commitment to raising quality standards and improving visitor experience through training and knowledge transfer, One North East has recently commissioned Live Tourism and Newcastle based new media company, Indigo Multimedia to develop “Profit through Access” an online learning resource designed to help regional tourism businesses attract a wider range of visitors.
Located at the course is freely available to tourism businesses of all types and is aimed at helping businesses understand the needs of a diverse range of customers. The online course allows businesses to take a step-by-step approach to improving access to all parts of their customers’ journey.
The course features a close-up look at the different needs of a wide range of customers including those with disabilities, the elderly and families with young children; in fact any visitor who might need a little extra help. Because the learning is broken into easily accessible bite-sized learning chunks users can easily complete the course at their own speed and by course completion, organisations will have created an access statement relevant to their business.
There are many benefits in recognising the opportunities accessibility offers and while some businesses may be daunted by the prospect of tackling access issues, it is now a requirement by VisitBritain to have an access statement in order to achieve a quality assessment rating. An access statement simply describes how your customers can access your business and premises, regardless of their ability or mobility.
The online course takes organisations through a number of processes that help identify practical and low-cost ways to make improvements; these could be as simple as making large print menus available, offering facilities for warming baby food or letting people know that all spaces are well lit.
Speaking of the project Richard Vickery, (Business Development Manager) from One North East is keen to emphasise the importance of improving the visitor experience for everyone, “By encouraging businesses to use the learning tools and take practical steps we are leading by example and sending out a message that the North East is a fantastic place to visit. If people enjoy their experience they are more likely to come back, spend their money and tell their friends; everybody wins.”
For tourism related businesses that wish to consider the wider needs of all their visitors, the website is well presented and extremely user friendly. The course material is easily accessible, automatically saving the information input and tracking learner development through a progress bar, which allows people to work at their own pace while building up an action plan of changes.
When designing the layout and functionality of the site the team at Indigo utilised their wealth of experience in creating bespoke e-Learning environments, implementing a number of interactive technologies to make the learning fun.  Users can access video clips with comments from visitors and ideas from other businesses, drag and drop activities keep the online learning interactive and because the website integrates with existing software used by One North East the feedback gained is easily evaluated.
Once the course has been completed organisations are encouraged to integrate their access statements into forward marketing activity, giving them the best possible opportunity to attract visitors while improving profits, service and accessibility. To find out how your business can benefit from the tourism business toolkit, please visit  and follow the links or via


TAGS : E-Learning, E-Learning North East, Educational Video, News, ONE North East, Web Design North East


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